Chooks on road trip to freedom

04:49, Jul 11 2014
NEW HOMES: Farmwatch investigator Jasmine Gray helps Grovetown resident Rochelle Mawson take five chickens out of the truck transporting them from Mosgiel to Wellington. Mawson was one of dozens of New Zealanders who adopted the former battery farm chickens.

A handful of Marlborough residents did their part to better the fate of 31 former battery chickens by adopting them through Wellington-based animal sanctuary HuHa this morning.

HuHa founder Carolyn Press-McKenzie and Farmwatch investigator Jasmine Gray collected about 300 battery hens from Brougham Park Poultry Farm, in Mosgiel – a commercial farm in Mosgiel that ad closed early last month – and drove them up to Picton and on to Wellington.

A Facebook campaign was started by HuHa to rehome the birds for a $10 donation each, with demand soon outstripping supply. The page received 100,000 likes in just 24 hours, Press-McKenzie said.

In Blenheim, 31 chooks were handed over to new owners, to be kept as pets.

Grovetown resident Rochelle Mawson took five and said getting eggs and the manure from the chickens would be a bonus.

"We used to have chickens about 12 years ago, they are great wee pets," Mawson said.


Gray said the response from the public had been overwhelming, and her group was thrilled to find new homes for all the chickens, except those that first needed extra attention because of their bad health.

Gray and Press-McKenzie left for the farm on Tuesday and drove for 10 hours to collect the chickens, before heading back up the coast and dropping the chickens off at new homes along the way.

The chickens were all dewormed and had their toenails clipped before going to their new owners. Most were in a poor state and would need loving care from their new owners, Gray said.

Most of the 3000 chooks from the farm had been rehomed by Otago animal rights activist Tayla O’Driscoll. HuHa got involved when efforts to find homes for the last 300 began to stall.

"When people start to run out of puff and it seems nothing more can be done, that’s when we step in," Press-McKenzie said.

Gray said the farm had come under pressure for its battery-hen farming practices, and Farmwatch had laid a complaint with the Ministry for Primary Industries after visiting the farm last year.

According to the Otago Daily Times, farm owner Chris Wilson had decided to shut up shop after 40 years of farming with her late husband Arthur Wilson.

"We were really glad to see a battery hen farm close. There are 125 egg farms in New Zealand, a lot of which are battery farms. Hens shouldn’t be kept in cages," Gray said.

The Marlborough Express